Regular unemployment claims in state jumped 44% last week; monthly payroll growth slowed in September

More signals that the recovery is slowing in Washington in a pair of reports from the state Employment Security Department. The weekly update on unemployment insurance claims showed a sharp increase in initial regular claims, also some drop in continuing claims. 

During the week of October 4 through October 10, there were 22,324 initial regular unemployment claims (up 44.1 percent from the prior week) and 476,735 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 5.9 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications remain at elevated levels and are at 252 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Continued claims for regular Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims all decreased over the week.
  • The increases in initial regular unemployment claims were primarily in manufacturing and accommodation and food service. Retail and transportation and warehousing also showed increases.

The chart below shows claims experience in recent weeks.

The September employment report released by ESD yesterday showed slower employment growth, even as the unemployment rate fell.

Washington’s economy added 2,400 jobs in September and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for September decreased from 8.4 percent (adjusted) to 7.8 percent according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

“Payroll growth slowed markedly in September,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “A shift to remote learning apparently led to less government hiring than usual this time of year, which showed up largely in local education.”

Still a very fragile recovery here.